“We wouldn’t be here, doing this job, if those things are true. Anyone can have an opinion, I know the department went over there and looked at everything, I know this school has looked at everything, I know we’re very, very comfortable with what we’re doing and where we’re at. And we’re excited about it to move forward.”
On Thursday, new Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson spoke to the media for the first time since being hired in January. The former Indiana head coach was pressed about allegations that he mistreated players while with the Hoosiers. Wilson is accused of making injured players return to the field before they were fully recovered while at the school. When asked about the allegations and being hired by Ohio State, Wilson defended himself, and said he wouldn’t be coaching with the Buckeyes if there was any truth to the allegations.
In early February when asked about the hiring of Wilson, head coach Urban Meyer said that Wilson was vetted by athletic director Gene Smith before the hiring was approved. Meyer said even though he previously knew Wilson, he still wanted to do his homework on the situation, and when he got the responses he was comfortable with going forward with the hire. The official reason Indiana and Wilson parted ways was because of “philosophical differences”. Wilson won’t have to wait long to square off with his former employers, as Ohio State opens the 2017 against Indiana.
“My whole heart is into it. This is all that I do. I am here to play football, I come from Texas. This is why I came. It’s all in good nature. It’s not like I am trying to mess up the Ohio State backup. I read sometimes, it was like I was the enemy, I was the bad guy. Guys, I’m not trying to do that to the Buckeyes. I love the Buckeyes.”
Just a few years ago quarterback J.T. Barrett was the hero for stepping in for an injured Braxton Miller and putting Ohio State in position to make the College Football Playoff before he was injured against Michigan. Now there are some who would have been happy if Barrett had left the Buckeyes following the 31-0 loss in the Fiesta Bowl to eventual national champion Clemson. Barrett brushed off the haters and decided to return for his senior season. Still, Barrett says that some of the things he has seen written about him on-line have gotten to him.
Even with the criticism, Barrett understands it just because of how the world is now. These days people want the newest thing. While he knows he isn’t the latest thing, he continues to try and improve his game to help Ohio State win football games. Barrett also knows that if there was a quarterback on the roster that was better than him, they’d be playing instead of him. Even though there are times when it can be easy to get frustrated with Barrett’s play, there is no doubt that he is a winner, and there likely will be plenty more wins he can add to his record in his senior season in Columbus.
“That’s one of the main things, I don’t like that sour feeling in my stomach. Especially after losing like that. That was definitely on the list.”
After a season in which he recorded 7.5 sacks, and was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Tyquan Lewis forego his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft. Lewis threw a bit of a curveball to many though when he announced he wasn’t quite ready to leave Ohio State.
The main reason for Lewis returning to the Buckeyes for one more year? The way the Fiesta Bowl played out. Even though Lewis already has been a part of a championship team at Ohio State, the defensive end couldn’t let his Buckeye career end with the 31-0 shutout to Clemson being his final game. Not only is Lewis looking to make up for Ohio State’s performance in the College Football Playoff, but he has also been named a captain this year. With plenty of defensive talent returning this year, especially on the defensive line, it is likely Lewis and the rest of the Buckeyes can atone for how their 2016 season ended.
“The only thing we can control right now is Friday. That’s all we’re really focused on right now, is to go up there and try to play our best hockey game Friday against a very good team in their barn — and they’re playing for an awful lot as well. Our focus really, to be honest with you, is trying to put a 60-minute game together Friday night.”
After Wisconsin won the two prior meetings this year, Ohio State will be looking for a little revenge when they travel to Madison for a pair of games against the Badgers this weekend to close out the regular season. With the Big Ten Tournament next weekend in Detroit, both teams will be looking to close out the regular season on a high-note.
The Buckeyes and Badgers both have their eyes on the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that comes with winning the Big Ten Tournament, but both have put together seasons that are worthy of earning an at-large bid if they don’t take home the Big Ten title. Wisconsin currently is ranked 13th in the PairWise rankings, while Ohio State sits just one spot outside the top-16. Ohio State will get a boost in these matchups with Wisconsin, as they’ll have senior forward Nick Schilkey available after the captain missed the first two meetings with the Badgers. If the Buckeyes want to secure their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009, they’ll need a strong showing this weekend in Madison.